On June 18, 2020, FERC denied a complaint by Anbaric Development Partners, L.L.C. (“Anbaric”) against PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) alleging that PJM’s transmission interconnection procedures denied meaningful open access interconnection service to Anbaric’s proposed offshore transmission projects (see December 11, 2019 edition of the WER). FERC’s June 18 order concluded that Anbaric failed to demonstrate that PJM’s transmission interconnection procedures are unjust and unreasonable, or that the requirements for merchant transmission projects are either inconsistent with open access transmission service or unreasonably limit transmission expansion. FERC also highlighted its upcoming technical conference to discuss offshore wind integration in organized markets (see June 24, 2020 edition of the WER). Commissioner Bernard McNamee issued a separate concurring statement in which he highlighted his support for the technical conference.

Anbaric proposed to construct offshore transmission projects that would connect offshore wind generation to the PJM transmission system via submarine cables (“Transmission Platform Projects”). Anbaric’s complaint focused on two provisions of the PJM Tariff that require merchant transmission projects to: (1) connect to another control area outside of PJM, and (2) use either direct current or controllable alternating current. Anbaric alleged that because its proposal would not connect PJM to another control area, PJM’s process for studying the projects assumed that they had no ability to inject power onto the PJM transmission system. Anbaric alleged that this would make it impossible to develop its proposed projects, because the company would be unable to offer offshore wind generators the ability to inject their power into the PJM transmission system. Anbaric characterized this result as overly restrictive and in violation of FERC’s open access principles.

FERC’s June 18 order concluded that Anbaric failed to demonstrate that the PJM Tariff provisions are unjust and unreasonable, explaining that they are specifically intended to accommodate interconnections between control areas, rather than interconnections of offshore generation. FERC also rejected Anbaric’s allegation that the controllability requirement of PJM’s Tariff is unduly discriminatory, explaining that it enables PJM to ensure its system operates reliably and efficiently. FERC pointed out that PJM’s Tariff gives Anbaric several options to move its projects forward, including building its facility without the associated transmission injection rights; getting its facilities included in a state’s transmission expansion plan, or entering into a contract with offshore wind developers and submitting a generator interconnection request.

Finally, FERC highlighted that it also issued a Notice of Technical Conference to discuss whether its existing regulatory frameworks can accommodate anticipated growth in offshore wind generation, and to consider possible changes or improvements to those frameworks. Commissioner McNamee issued a separate concurring statement that expressed his support for the technical conference, noting that it would provide an opportunity for FERC to hear from experts about the opportunities and challenges to developing offshore wind, particularly with regard to ensuring adequate access to transmission.

FERC’s June 18 order is available here.